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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 97-05-08

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Greek Press & Information Office, Ottawa Canada <>


Greek Press & Information Office
Ottawa, Canada
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  • [01] Simitis: Greece unwilling to even consider negotiation of sovereign rights
  • [02] Results from Parliament group meeting
  • [03] Gov't spokesman
  • [04] Reppas: Better Greek-Turkish relations as soon as Ankara improves attitude
  • [05] Samaras condemns 'committee of experts' development
  • [06] Return of Parthenon Marbles a basic foreign policy issue, Venizelos says
  • [07] Kranidiotis briefed on Mideast peace process
  • [08] Greece, US conclude main portion of defense-related meetings
  • [09] Greek-Turkish business meeting at end of May
  • [10] Military exercises underway in the Cyclades
  • [11] US supports Dutch EU presidency initiative
  • [12] Dutch presidency
  • [13] Greek charge d' affaires to reopen Baghdad embassy
  • [14] Gov't: Delay in return of Greek ambassador to Iran due to personal reasons
  • [15] Bavarian state delegation in Greece
  • [16] Constantine Karamanlis: Comments by ex-king 'unworthy of comment'
  • [17] Meeting between Karamanlis, ND 16 deputies
  • [18] Stephanopoulos receives AHEPA delegation
  • [19] News in Brief
  • [20] G. Papandreou meets with the religious leadership of Thrace's Moslems
  • [21] Aid for Zlatograd leaves from Chrysoupoli
  • [22] Humanitarian aid from Crete to Albania
  • [23] Papantoniou: Greece close to achieving Maastricht criteria
  • [24] Annual fur trade turnover above $150 million over past years
  • [25] V. Papandreou on Softex, Elefsina shipyards privatizations
  • [26] EU directives threaten Greek wine producers
  • [27] IMF delegation briefed on economic prospects, inflation's slide
  • [28] Information campaign in light of upcoming tourist season
  • [29] Northern Greek industrialists want Santer to promote Black Sea, Balkan development
  • [30] Partial privatization for tax-free shops
  • [31] Work continuing on Olympic Stadium in light of IAAF world championship
  • [32] Gov't to establish council for road safety

  • [01] Simitis: Greece unwilling to even consider negotiation of sovereign rights

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis stressed yesterday that Greece was in no way prepared to negotiate its sovereign rights in any form of dialogue and would not accept any process which questioned the present status quo in the Aegean.

    Addressing the ruling PASOK party's Parliamentary group, the premier was replying to criticism from within his party of the government's recent handling of Greek-Turkish relations.

    "There is no place for rhetoric in foreign policy matters ... With regards to national issues, the greatest responsibility is borne by the cadres of a ruling party," Mr. Simitis said.

    Thirty-two PASOK deputies late last month made public a letter addressed to Mr. Simitis, protesting what they viewed as the government's acceptance of a dialogue with Turkey.

    "This form of public announcement promotes neither democracy nor cohesion within the party, since there are statutory bodies at which issues should be raised," Mr. Simitis said, noting that he had first learned about the letter while listening to a radio station.

    The premier underlined that the government's position on the entire spectrum of Greek-Turkish relations was "crystal-clear" and had been ratified by the primary collective bodies of the ruling PASOK party and the electorate.

    "It is a fundamental position of the government that Greece does not put up its sovereign rights, as these rights emanate from international law and treaties, (for discussion) in any dialogue," Mr. Simitis said, adding that Greece would not accept any process which questioned the present status quo in the Aegean.

    Mr. Simitis said there was a substantial difference between Greece and Turkey, namely, that while Athens had a clear policy and positions based on international law and treaties, Ankara was refusing to adapt its policy to the fundamental rules of the European Union, which it nevertheless wanted to join.

    "The result is, at the present time, that Turkey is a destabilizing factor not only in the Aegean but in the greater region," he said.

    If Turkey proved that it respected international law and abandoned its expansionist designs, the premier said, it would find support from Greece in its European course.

    If the tension and threat of force systematically fostered in recent years by Ankara disappeared from the region, he added, the Greek and Turkish peoples would only gain.

    Mr. Simitis said in Athens' view, the purpose of the soon to be formed "committee of experts" by Greece and Turkey to examine the problems between the two neighbours was to improve the climate in their bilateral relations.

    "The committee in no way implies commencement of a political dialogue nor any form of arbitration," Mr. Simitis said, reiterating that its findings would not be binding.

    The Greek premier said that "the procedural dialogue has two alternatives: one is for it to constitute the turning point in Turkey's policy vis-a-vis the respect of international law, with the abandoning of every expansionist design, in which case the way will open for the peaceful course of the two countries, also within the framework of the EU, and with Greece as its supportive neighbour.

    "The other is for Ankara to be exposed once again, with the exclusive responsibility of Turkey, that the neighbouring country does not want true dialogue, in which case it will be irreparably exposed where it wants to pass its examinations, and from the European power it wants to turn into, it will withdraw once again into the backwardness of an Ottoman vision which will not find understanding in the current world.

    "Greece has nothing to fear and nothing to lose...," Mr. Simitis said. Government policy also aimed at improving Greek-Turkish relations through a step-by-step approach, Mr. Simitis added.

    The premier reiterated that the first step was for Turkey to accept three conditions which reflect basic principles of international law.

    "Namely, a declaration (by Ankara) at the appropriate political level, without terms or provisions, that it rules out the threat of war and the use of force in relations between the two countries, and at the same time, the unreserved declaration that it will under no circumstances resort to war in order to resolve any problem which Turkey may consider to exist between the two countries.

    "Secondly, the acceptance (by Ankara) of the institutional framework which governs relations between the two countries and shapes the existing legal situation in the Aegean, that is, the existing international treaties.

    "Thirdly, the subsequent acceptance by Turkey that issues which pertain to the implementation or interpretation of international treaties should be settled through legal procedures provided under international bodies and specifically, at the International Court at The Hague," Mr. Simitis said.

    Following this, the premier went on, and Turkey's acceptance to refer its claims regarding the Imia islets to The Hague, Greece would give its approval for the financial protocol foreseen under the EU-Turkey customs union agreement.

    "The next step would be the drawing up of an agreement to refer the issue of the delineation of the (Aegean) continental shelf to The Hague, while at the same time, contacts could begin at a ministerial and government level for an exchange of views and the development of co-operation in sectors such as tourism, commerce, combating crime, etc..." the premier said.

    There is no hesitation or wavering in PASOK with regard to national issues, Mr. Simitis said, adding that government policy had been shaped through successive collective procedures and ratified by virtue of the Greek people's mandate last Sept. 22.

    Mr. Simitis said foreign policy was "closely and decisively" linked with the attainment of the government's overall targets such as the strengthening of the economy, preserving social cohesion and the country's equal participation in the course towards European integration.

    [02] Results from Parliament group meeting

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    Mr. Simitis said afterwards that the meeting confirmed a coincidence of views.

    In spite of a tense atmosphere which prevailed in the meeting, Mr. Simitis said that "on the core of policy there have been no disagreements."

    The meeting brought to the surface, according to Mr. Simitis, "a series of questions on secondary issues."

    "We cannot describe in full detail all our future foreign policy moves," Mr. Simitis said. "On the other hand, a proud national silence to international moves will not be sufficient either, since Greece does not have a reason to look scared," he added, saying that the government should focus on defense and diplomatic alertness.

    In an apparent reference to the letter of the 32 PASOK deputies, the premier urged deputies to write letters, but not make public announcements.

    On his part, Justice Minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos, one of the critics of the letter by the "32" said earlier that it makes "no one proud."

    However, one of the letter's supporters, former minister and current deputy Yiannis Kapsis said that discussion of foreign policy issues should be the focus of a future meeting. He said the letter was leaked to the press and called for an investigation.

    Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said the content of the letter which was copied by international agencies had reached his European counterparts, put him in an embarrassing position of having to convince them that he was not willing to make concession s regarding the Greek veto on EU financial aid to Turkey.

    Greece has not withdrawn its veto on the grounds of continued Turkish threats against Greece's sovereignty in the Aegean.

    [03] Gov't spokesman

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday that the prime minister's speech was "the speech of a national leader".

    "Mr. Simitis' speech was modest, clear and direct. The positions the prime minister elaborated on were the positions of a politician of a national calibre," he said.

    [04] Reppas: Better Greek-Turkish relations as soon as Ankara improves attitude

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday said a different attitude from Turkey towards Greece could lead to notable progress in relations between the two countries.

    He was commenting on a meeting Tuesday in Strasbourg between Greek Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou and the Turkish Foreign Under-secretary Onur Oymen.

    The two men had met on the sidelines of a Council of Europe ministerial summit.

    "The meeting was held in a good atmosphere but this should not lead to a misunderstanding over the policies of the two men," warned Mr. Reppas.

    Sources said on Tuesday that the meeting confirmed the willingness of both sides for the committees of experts to begin operating.

    There is no fixed date yet, but Mr. Reppas said the committee would soon begin its operation.

    Regarding the committee's future, he said it would depend on the experts' positions and the ability to find common ground.

    Regarding Education Minister Gerassimos Arsenis's recent request for the convening of a PASOK Central Committee meeting to discuss Greek-Turkish affairs in view of the latest developments, the spokesman confirmed that such a meeting would take place but said the time for it has yet to be determined.

    [05] Samaras condemns 'committee of experts' development

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    The leader of the Political Spring party, Antonis Samaras, yesterday expressed his total opposition to the forming of a "committee of experts" regarding Greek-Turkish differences.

    Speaking after being briefed on the issue by Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, he described the committee as a "procedural trap".

    "This procedure is making us surrender our most powerful weapon, which is international treaties, to some arbitration which will obviously ... cut the Aegean in two," he said.

    [06] Return of Parthenon Marbles a basic foreign policy issue, Venizelos says

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos yesterday said that the return of the Parthenon Marbles was a basic issue for Greek foreign policy, while denying there had been a clash between Greece and Britain over the return the friezes, handed to Lord Elgin by t he Ottoman rulers in the early 19th century.

    "There is no question of a Greek-British clash," he said at a press conference this morning, expressing displeasure at foreign press reports which he said put the issue out of proportion. The minister reiterated that the return of the marbles was a basic issue for Greek foreign policy, adding that a design by Italian architects for a museum in Athens to house the frieze had been submitted to the Mercouri Foundation.

    The late actress and culture minister Melina Mercouri had first put the Greek demand to the British government and had been met with sympathy by the Labour Party, then in opposition.

    Britain's new Heritage Secretary Chris Smith early this week ruled out returning the Parthenon marbles to Greece, only days after Mr. Venizelos said he would reinstate the long-standing Greek request.

    Yesterday Mr. Venizelos noted that the Greek government "is speaking with the voice of the monument, which desires the return of the marbles stolen by Lord Elgin".

    The minister declined to disclose the content of a letter he is to send to his British counterpart outlining the legal and historical foundation for the Greek demand, invoking protocol. Meanwhile the two ministers are to meet on June 30 at a European UN ion Council of culture ministers' meeting.

    [07] Kranidiotis briefed on Mideast peace process

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    Miguel Angel Moratinos, the EU special envoy on the Middle East peace process yesterday briefed Foreign Under-secretary Yiannos Kranidiotis on latest developments in the peace process. Mr. Kranidiotis elaborated on Greece's positions and conveyed the government's interest in developments in the Middle East.

    [08] Greece, US conclude main portion of defense-related meetings

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    The main phase of Greek-American talks covering defense issues was concluded on Crete yesterday with no "specific agreements reached," according to National Defense Under-secretary Dimitris Apostolakis.

    Shortly after the departure of his US counterpart, Principal Deputy Secretary of Defense Jan Lodal, from Irakleio airport, Mr. Apostolakis addressed a press conference and referred to the talks and discussions held on security in the eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans, NATO's reorganization and expansion, bilateral issues as well as issues regarding armaments programs.

    "We left the issues on which we did not reach an agreement for our staffs to process and raise them again at the meeting next year," he said.

    Replying to questions, Mr. Apostolakis said "it is known that almost all friends and allies are trying to influence us to contact Turkey, and they do the same thing with the neighbouring country, to resolve our issues. This also occurred now, but we reached no decision.

    "We listened to their views and they listened to ours. We tried to convince them, and I believe that we did convince them over the just way we are handling the issues related to the Aegean and Turkey in general. We told them about the steps we have take n and the steps that Turkey must take to enable us to get out of the deadlock," he added.

    Asked whether efforts aimed at influencing are translated into pressures, he said that "periods when our country received pressures are over."

    "Even friends and allies from the European Union are trying to convince us of advantages from a decrease in tension in the area," he said.

    Replying to a question on whether the US delegation requested something specific from Greece, Mr. Apostolakis said "they simply say as an example: 'you have a problem with violations in the Aegean. Can we possibly find another way so that the Turks can use the right to fly in international air space without violating international rules and national air space?'

    "We explained to them that we insist on ICAO's rules, which are applicable all over the world, internationally recognized and accepted, and that if we try to implement even the Papoulias-Yilmaz memorandum more precisely or rules implemented in cases of aircraft flights in foreign countries, then there would be no problem."

    Mr. Apostolakis said that he explained to the US side that flights by Greek aircraft over Cyprus are completely different from the flights of Turkish aircraft. He said that the Turkish aircraft violate the national sovereignty of Cyprus, while we are invited and have the agreement of the Cypriot government.

    "The request for warplanes not to fly over Cyprus in all exercises is universal. It has been put to the Cypriot government and it is that government's ... responsibility to deny or accept it," he said.

    Referring to the military exercise code-named "Toxotis", Mr. Apostolakis said the exercise is developing smoothly as had been planned in advance.

    "It is one of the Greek armed forces' planned exercises. We are trying to implement plans both in national airspace and the unified defense zone, which also includes Cyprus," he added.

    The meeting is due to continue until tomorrow.

    [09] Greek-Turkish business meeting at end of May

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    A group of Greek and Turkish businessmen will come together to discuss details concerning a forthcoming business meeting which will be held in Izmir, on May 24-25.

    In another development, 25 children from Cesme are currently visiting Hios with their parents.

    [10] Military exercises underway in the Cyclades

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said the effectiveness and strength of the armed forces are undoubtedly the best safeguard for positive prospects concerning national issues.

    Mr. Tsohatzopoulos made his statement on board the frigate "Adrias" yesterday, while watching the naval exercise "Astrapi", which is combined with the air-sea exercise "Toxotis". He was accompanied by the four general staff chiefs.

    The small-scale exercise "Astrapi" is being carried out in the Myrtoo Sea area and the Cyclades.

    The "Toxotis" exercise also includes two frigates.

    [11] US supports Dutch EU presidency initiative

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    US Ambassador to Greece Thomas Niles yesterday expressed support for a Dutch European Union presidency proposal to form a committee of experts to examine Greek-Turkish relations.

    Greece and Turkey have each named two representatives to the committee, to hold separate consultations on Greek-Turkish differences.

    Speaking after his first meeting with main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis, Mr. Niles said the US considered there were possibilities for positive results and progress in relations between the two countries. He declined to comment on whether the US wanted a meeting between the two countries' experts or an exchange of ideas by letter. The US, he said, did not want to get involved in procedures.

    "We are sure the Dutch presidency will make all the necessary arrangements with the Greek and Turkish governments. The US is not about to give advice as to how the talks should take place," said the ambassador.

    [12] Dutch presidency

    Brussels, 08/05/1997 (ANA/M. Spinthourakis)

    A Dutch foreign ministry spokesperson told the ANA yesterday that the Dutch EU presidency has not yet appointed a person to assume a mediating role in the experts committee which will be formed to examine Greek-Turkish differences.

    The spokesperson said the Greek and Turkish representatives to the committee are due to submit by mid-June a common temporary report containing procedural proposals for the confrontation of the issues.

    Greece has appointed Professors Krateros Ioannou and Aristidis Fatouros and Turkey Sukru Eletag, a former foreign ministry general secretary and Suat Bilg, a former ambassador, to the committee.

    [13] Greek charge d' affaires to reopen Baghdad embassy

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    Greece has sent a diplomat to reopen its embassy in Iraq, closed since the 1991 Gulf War.

    "The (Greek) embassy will be fully operated," Christos Skoursis, the newly appointed charge d' affaires, told Reuters yesterday.

    Greece along with other western countries closed down their diplomatic missions in Baghdad after the 1991 Gulf War, which chased occupying Iraqi troops out of Kuwait.

    Mr. Skoursis said the embassy would open after settling some procedures.

    "There are certain matters that we have to settle before opening the embassy," he said, without elaborating.

    [14] Gov't: Delay in return of Greek ambassador to Iran due to personal reasons

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said Athens' announcement concerning the return of the Greek ambassador to Tehran is valid.

    Mr. Reppas, who was replying to a relevant question, said the small delay in the ambassador's return is due to personal reasons.

    [15] Bavarian state delegation in Greece

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    A parliamentary delegation comprised of 18 Bavarian deputies is on an official visit to Greece for talks with ministry officials, professors and heads of scientific committees, within the framework of the Greek-German prevention plan and an eight-nation study program on tourism and health.

    [16] Constantine Karamanlis: Comments by ex-king 'unworthy of comment'

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    Former president of the republic Constantine Karamanlis replied yesterday to statements made by the ex-king Constantine on Tuesday with a personal statement and an announcement by his press office.

    "I will not deal with the statements of the ex-king because both their content and tone are unworthy of comment," Mr. Karamanlis said in his personal statement, adding that "I will only recommend to all those who still feel sympathetic towards the institution of the monarchy to realize at last that the issue of the form of government in Greece has been finally resolved."

    The announcement by Mr. Karamanlis' press office also called allegations by the ex-king "completely untrue. The ex-king claimed that in 1966 Mr. Karamanlis reportedly accepted a return to Greece from Paris where he stayed only if the then monarch assigned the armed forces with imposing a dictatorship.

    The announcement says that "Mr. Karamanlis stated to the ex-king's envoy Dimitrios Bitsios (in 1966) that he does not accept to return to Greece and in fact, explained the reasons."


    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga raised a number of questions on the pre-dictatorship era yesterday on the occasion of the publication of the archives of Constantine Karamanlis, saying that serious conclusions and issues exist, particularly during the 1965-1967 period and during the junta period (1967-1974) which are being concealed.

    "Why did the coup take place? By whom and why?" she asked.

    "All this is related to the popular movement and the left, but there is also an international dimension in the April coup which has to do with targets related to Cyprus, the Middle East and the Israel-Arab war," she added.

    [17] Meeting between Karamanlis, ND 16 deputies

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday met with ND 16 deputies and other party members. According to reports, the meeting was of a social nature, but political developments were also discussed. The reports said a number of deputies said ND should have a more aggressive policy and a more active presence in political events. They added that Mr. Karamanlis said steady steps must be taken without "spasmodic actions", stressing that there is still a long way to go until the elections and that the party must gain the trust of the Greek people. The ND president stressed that when there are "grumbles and disagreements within the ruling PASOK party, there is no reason for the party to react, as differences in the ruling party a re revealed. Speaking on the Constantine Karamanlis archives issue, publicized recently by former premier and president Constantine Karamanlis, the uncle of the ND leader, the ND leader stressed there is no internal party problems surrounding the issue. He added that there were plans longtime plans to publicize the archives, but that it was postponed due to the party congress. "The party has and must have its attention focused on the problems of today and on planning for tomorrow," Costas Karamanlis said.

    [18] Stephanopoulos receives AHEPA delegation

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos yesterday received an American Hellenic Educational and Progressive Association (AHEPA) delegation, headed by its President Spyros Makris. In another development, President Stephanopoulos will visit Thrace o n May 13-14 to attend events marking the 77th anniversary of the liberation of the region; the island of Zakinthos on May 21 for events marking the anniversary of the union of Ionian islands with Greece, as well as Souli in Epirus, on May 25.

    [19] News in Brief

    Melbourne, 08/05/1997 (ANA/S. Hatzimanolis)

    New South Wales State Premier Bob Carr is to visit Athens in September to sign an agreement for an exhibition of Olympian antiquities at Sydney's Powerhouse Museum during the Olympic Games in the year 2000.

    Cultural affairs officials Evan Williams and Terence Measham are visiting Athens to discuss plans for the exhibition with government officials.

    [20] G. Papandreou meets with the religious leadership of Thrace's Moslems

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou yesterday met with the religious leadership of the Moslem minority of Thrace, upon its return from a pilgrimage to Mecca.

    The delegation briefed Mr. Papandreou on issues concerning the Moslem minority.

    [21] Aid for Zlatograd leaves from Chrysoupoli

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    A second humanitarian aid mission was due to leave early today from Chrysoupoli, Kavala prefecture for the Bulgarian city of Zlatograd.

    The aid, amounting to 25 tons, includes foodstuffs and medicines for residents of the region, which is twinned with the municipality of Chrysoupoli.

    The people of Chrysoupoli had sent another 75 tons of foodstuffs and medicines to Zlatograd last month. The second convoy will be accompanied by the mayor of Chrysoupoli and president of the Local Union of Municipalities and Communities of the Kavala prefecture (TEDK) Miltiades Passalidis.

    [22] Humanitarian aid from Crete to Albania

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    Following a decision by the Holy Synod of the Church of Crete, the Archdiocese of Crete has carried out a collection for foodstuffs, olive oil and money for the Albanian people. In all, 15 tons of foodstuffs were collected, 2.5 tons of olive oil and five million drachmas in cash.

    The humanitarian aid was due to leave for the port of Piraeus last night with a ship of the Minoan Lines and will be delivered to a representative of the Archbishop of Albania Anastasios to be sent to Albania.

    [23] Papantoniou: Greece close to achieving Maastricht criteria

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou yesterday said the Greek economy "is one step away from achieving the Maastricht criteria which will allow our participation in economic and monetary union by the year 2001, at the latest."

    He made the statement during the annual Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) awards presentation.

    The awards are presented to "self-starting businessmen", "businesses with tradition" and the businesses with the best results in their sectors.

    During his speech, EBEA president G. Papathanasiou said the economy has improved over the past three years.

    "But the combination of the hard drachma policy, the tax and particularly the income policy in the public sector, which has inevitably affected the private sector, and has made our national economy less competitive," he said.

    [24] Annual fur trade turnover above $150 million over past years

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    The annual turnover for fur businesses in the Kastoria area has ranged between US$150 and 180 million in past few years. Businesses involved in the sector believe that an annual turnover of $600 million is a feasible target in the event of an immediate expansion of their markets and a settlement of their debts by the state.

    The Federation of Kastoria Fur Producers will organize the 22nd International Fur Exhibition from May 13-18. A total of 125 exhibitors will participate from a number of countries around the world, including Italy, Canada, the United States, Spain and Germany.

    The production of furs has been an important economic activity in the Kastoria region over the past 30 years and, according to the president of the region's Fur Federation, Panayiotis Pavlou, the sector has 2,500 businesses which employ over 15,000 workers.

    Present-day production in the sector exceeds 1.5 million fur overcoats a year and the main markets are countries from the former Soviet Union, together with traditional markets, such as Canada and the Far East.

    [25] V. Papandreou on Softex, Elefsina shipyards privatizations

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    Development Minister Vasso Papandreou said yesterday that the privatizations of the Softex paper mills and of the Elefsina shipyards will be carried out under the best possible conditions, particularly for workers.

    Ms. Papandreou made the statement after a meeting held yesterday morning, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    The decisions were announced to the workers by Development Under-secretary Anna Diamantopoulou.

    "The formal aspect of the procedures has been completed. What remain are some last moves," she said.

    [26] EU directives threaten Greek wine producers

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    Greece's viniculturists have sounded the alarm that Greece is in danger of becoming a wine-importer rather than exporter if the current trend continues of uprooting vineyards to limit wine production in accordance with European Union directives.

    About 14 per cent of Greece's vineyards have been uprooted, according to Yannis Boutaris, president of Boutaris Wines, vice-president of the Industrialists' Association of Northern Greece and president of the Greek Wine Association.

    Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday in Thessaloniki on the occasion of the 14th DETROP trade fair, Mr. Boutaris urged the government to do everything in its power to abolish the policy of uprooting vineyards.

    "The government should make the European Union realize that Greece has special characteristics and that the policy of subsidizing viniculturists who abandon their vineyards should be abolished," he said.

    The viniculturists also want the agriculture ministry to take action against an issue raised by Britain regarding the abolition of taxation restrictions on ouzo, the traditional Greek aniseed drink, in the Greek market.

    "This is a thorn in the side of companies producing that Greek traditional drink, recognized by the European Union as a Greek patent," said Mr. Boutaris.

    Greece's wine producers have begun a promotional campaign both at home and abroad. Part of this effort is the Second Gastronomic and Wine Festival to coincide with the DETROP fair and which includes symposia, lectures and exhibitions of Greek and foreign-language books on wine and nutrition.

    The first restaurant guide to Thessaloniki has also been published, to promote Greek wine at the same time as traditional Greek cuisine.

    Exports of Greek wine and ouzo are at satisfactory levels, although the consumers' growing preference for spirits in recent years, both in Greece and abroad, has seen a drop in annual per capita consumption of wine from 45 litres in the 1960 to 30 litres today in Greece, while in France the decrease was from 120 to 70 litres over the same period of time.

    Tourism has had a beneficial effect on the sale of Greek wines and spirits, with Germany absorbing 90 per cent of ouzo exports to EU member states and 80 per cent of Greek wines. Mr. Boutaris also emphasized the role played by Greek restaurants in Germany, which serve only Greek wines.

    Ouzo exports in 1995 (11 million litres) brought in foreign exchange valued at 4.5 billion drachmas.

    Exports to Germany in particular are expected to increase further as a result of a Foreign Trade Organization promotion campaign budgeted at 500 million drachmas.

    [27] IMF delegation briefed on economic prospects, inflation's slide

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    Inflation will be running at a 5.8-5.9 percent annual rate in April according to predictions on figures due to be released today.

    The prediction for May is that inflation will decrease even further and will decrease to 5 per cent by autumn. Meanwhile, experts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), who are in Athens collecting information on the course and prospects of the Greek economy, were briefed on the course of inflation. The IMF delegation has already expressed their satisfaction over the decrease achieved in inflation. After visiting the national economy ministry and the State General Accounting Office on Monday and Tuesday, they held talks yesterday with officials of the Bank of Greece and were briefed on the course of monetary policy and the policy concerning the drachma's exchange parity.

    [28] Information campaign in light of upcoming tourist season

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    The INKA Tourist Protection Service and the General Federation of Consumers of Greece (GOKE) received 6,403 complaints during last year's tourist season, it was reported yesterday.

    For this reason and to mark the beginning of the 1997 tourist season, INKA/GOKE has begun a campaign to brief all enterprises concerned with tourism, such as hotels, restaurants and hostels. The campaign involves seminars, information leaflets and educational material, while a "client satisfaction form" will be made available, in order to allow customers to comment on the establishment.

    [29] Northern Greek industrialists want Santer to promote Black Sea, Balkan development

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    The Association of Northern Greek Industries (SBBE) is to propose to European Commission President Jacques Santer co-operation between the European Union, the Greek government and the business world of northern Greece with the aim of developing the Balkans and the countries of the Black Sea region.

    The proposal will be put to Mr. Santer when he visits Thessaloniki on Friday. The Commission head will be the main speaker at SBBE's annual general meeting to be held the same day.

    SBBE President Nikos Efthymiadis told a press conference in Thessaloniki yesterday that proposals will be put to Mr. Santer concerning EU enlargement and Greece's role, the way in which Greek businessmen will develop activities and the way in which the EU will become more active in the region.

    "In order to confront the fierce competition from the Far East and the United States, the EU must strengthen the positive effects of economic integration...," Mr. Efthymiadis said.

    Mr. Santer will pay an official visit to Greece from May 8-11 and have talks with President Kostis Stephanopoulos, Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis and main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis.

    He is expected to discuss European developments, major EU issues and issues of particular interest to Greece.

    Mr. Santer will for the first time participate in events to be organized in Greece on the occasion of Robert Schumann Day on May 9.

    [30] Partial privatization for tax-free shops

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    The partial privatization of tax-free shops, known as KAE, has been announced. KAE shares will be registered with the Athens Stock Exchange, as was done with the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE).

    According to reports, proclamation of tendering for a fiscal adviser for the KAE privatization is expected to occur next week.

    The partial privatization will amount to up to 25 per cent of the share capital. KAE posted profits of 15.2 billion drachmas in 1996, while profits are expected to reach 19 billion drachmas in 1997.

    [31] Work continuing on Olympic Stadium in light of IAAF world championship

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    Officials said yesterday that work on Athens' Olympic Stadium facilities has been progressing rapidly since the beginning of April, in view of the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) World Championships due to be held there in early August.

    The tartan track has been completely replaced on two of the warm-up tracks, and work on the third is nearing completion. The track of the central stadium, where all the events will be held, will have been replaced by May 18.

    Part of the stands are being transformed in order to provide facilities for media representatives from throughout the world, while facilities for cameras are being installed both in the stands and by the long-jump pits.

    All the facilities will have been tried and tested by July 20, the third and last day of the Greek national championships.

    In another development, the US television network NBC has asked for an extra 40 accreditations for the championships, in order to bring its staff up to 130. The request was discussed yesterday during a meeting with the Olympic Stadium officials.

    The US network will have an area of 1,600 square metres at its disposal.

    [32] Gov't to establish council for road safety

    Athens, 08/05/1997 (ANA)

    The government will soon table a bill in Parliament providing for the formation of a National Council for Road Safety, Transport and Communications Minister Haris Kastanidis announced yesterday.

    The bill is currently being prepared by the ministers of the interior, national economy, environment, town planning and public works, education, public order, health and welfare, labour and social security and transport.

    The proposed council, Mr. Kastanidis said, will operate on a permanent basis and be financially and administratively independent.

    "With clear and substantial areas of jurisdiction and duties," Mr. Kastanidis said, "the council will submit recommendations concerning national policy on road safety and supervise its implementation."

    Mr. Kastanidis said the problem of road accidents in Greece must be tackled with the same seriousness as drug abuse and AIDS.

    In road accidents every year, he continued, the country loses the equivalent of a small town's population, that is, 2,000 fatalities in approximately 22,000 accidents.

    About 32,000 vehicle passengers are injured in road accidents annually, Mr. Kastanidis added.

    The minister estimated the loss for the national economy every year at 150 billion drachmas - in terms of damage and compensation - without taking into consideration actual loss of life.

    In the last thirty years, Mr. Kastanidis said, accidents in Greece have risen by 105 per cent, while during the same period in other countries they dropped by between 5.0 and 40 per cent.

    End of English language section.

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